Over a year later on July 13th, 2013, George Zimmerman was found not guilty of second-degree murder, and was also acquitted of manslaughter in the Trayvon Martin case.
The trial was broadcast live on most television news stations. However, the trial was also the number one topic of conversation on social media on Saturday night, the night the verdict was reached. Millions of users posted on social media about “Zimmerman” and “Trayvon Martin,” two key phrases that are still trending on Twitter almost a week later. These people chose to share their opinions about the verdict by sharing it via Twitter and Facebook to all of their followers, and considering how controversial the case was, these opinions were deeply felt and strongly voiced. Countless people disagreed with the verdict and commented on the flaws of the state of Florida’s legal system, while numerous others felt the jury produced the correct verdict and that Florida’s laws functioned exactly the way they were designed.
Despite my personal opinion, I found myself being influenced by the hundreds of social media users whose thoughts and beliefs I was reading. After scrolling through a ton of angry, confused, relieved, disappointed, and/or joyful posts, I caught myself regurgitating other people’s opinions while discussing the case with my friends and family. I was making arguments and forming opinions based on the feelings and emotions that other people had shared via social media.
Once I became aware of this, I realized that it must have been happening to a lot of other people too. It’s obviously important to get information from multiple sources to establish a broad and unbiased perspective. The introduction of Twitter has drastically accelerated the rate at which people receive and absorb breaking news. However, Twitter acts as a double-edged sword in this case because anyone can Tweet about anything at any time. There’s no validation process. So while people may be getting information much more expeditiously, the truth and accuracy of this information may be diminished.
I think it’s important to be able to voice your opinion, and I think Twitter is great because it enables and facilitates these conversations. However, I strongly urge Twitter users to read carefully, share their thoughts even more carefully, and THINK before posting. There’s a lot of information out there, and in today’s age it is our responsibility to determine what information is valid and what is not. Your opinion matters because though you might not realize it, your opinion may be influencing and shaping the opinions of others.
How does social media affect your understanding and opinion of breaking news and current events?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.